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Archive for the ‘Park Slope’ Category

Beer Table – Bar Review

Last night I walked a couple of blocks to the new bar Beer Table which is located in South Slope. Reading the address (427 B 7th Avenue), I thought how interesting it was that I probably had never been to a bar that had a letter attached to its numbered address. When I arrived, I understood why.

The bar is miniscule. It consists of three long tables (they can sit four or five people on each side), a small bar and a bathroom. When I arrived, one of my friends was talking to Tricia Philips, a bartender and co-owner with her husband, Justin. My friend had been to their beer and pizza tasting while the bar was still awaiting its liquor license. They were very friendly and both recognized her from the tasting. Tricia introduced herself to me as well, and gave us the run-down of their beers on tap. All pretty well-priced for their quality, I drank a delicious (and strong) Cask Allagash Curieux for seven dollars. Note – this is not a place to go on a rowdy Saturday night when you feel like drinking a lot of beer. This bar is where you go for a quiet evening with one or two friends, and slowly drink quality beer. There are new beers on tap all the time (which they seem to update daily on their website) as well as a lot of more expensive bottled beers to sample.

We did not try their food, but I can tell you that it consisted of smaller meals and snacks. On their menu were cheeses and charcuterie, all of which seemed like nice accompaniments to the delicious variety of beers they were serving. The music was quiet enough to hold a conversation without yelling (something that seems more and more rare these days), and the feeling was very intimate. Aside from paying the bill at the end, this felt like a comfortable evening at a friend’s house.

Pros: Comfortable, intimate, great selection of new beers, incredibly friendly and informative staff.

Cons: A little pricier than your average bar (but for better beer), small space.

Beer Table

427 B 7th Avenue between 14th and 15th Street

South Slope, Brooklyn

Image taken from Brownstoner.

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While perusing Park Slope’s trendy 5th Avenue strip yesterday, I stumbled across these little beauties:

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Um, OK, Lucia, are you serious? Did 12 year-old me suddenly get caught in a time-space gap where she (I) is (am) now in charge of creating overpriced bracelets? Did 14 year-old me stumble into the role of buyer for your store?

How else do we explain this? It is a) the fugliest leather cuff this side of Constantine, and b) $125!!

Unless 12 year-old Elijah Wood has suddenly appeared, fresh off of his successes with North and a wad of cash burning a hole in his pocket, to whom do you expect to sell these fugles?

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Even I will not buy those.

****

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 I will!

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Gothamist, Gridskipper and Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn seem to be the only people writing about this. Last night there was a huge standoff on 9th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue in Park Slope. A guy named Dave had a family dispute, and at some point, shots were fired. There was basically a SWAT team, an armored vehicle, snipers, hostage negotiatiors, and robots. The incident was resolved around 4:30am, when they managed to get Dave away from the building peacefully. The entire block was covered in police tape. Anyone trying to get home after 8pm was forced to either find somewhere else to stay, or wait until the standoff was over. My roommates were not allowed to leave our apartment. I was not allowed to get into it.

Interesting rumors I heard while waiting on the street:

  • Dave kept live chickens in his apartment and performed ritual sacrifices (obviously) that also involved peanut butter.
  • Dave had a vial of sarin gas that he was planning on releasing into the neighborhood.
  • Dave was a jaded member of Al-Qaeda.

It’s amazing what lack of sleep and an active imagination can bring to the table.

In the end, people were pretty shocked that something like this would happen in Park Slope. Luckily the good people at Old Carriage Inn stayed open a little later and even offered “hostage situation discounts.”

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Throughout the summer and fall I became accustomed to eating locally grown foods thanks to the Park Slope CSA. Everything I got was fresh, tasty, affordable, and environmentally sustainable. I felt connected to the farm and the farmer, and interestingly, to my neighbors in Park Slope. Overall, it was an immensely positive experience.

Sadly, we are now in the hideous throes of winter (never mind that it’s 60° outside today) and while the land rests in a barren, tundra-like state, the CSA is on hiatus. So what’s a girl with an affinity for local food to do?

Leda, a New Yorker who’s put herself on a local food diet, has compiled a handy online resource for folks in the NYC area who are looking for specific products that are locally grown or raised. So, if you want some flour or cheddar or eggies from producers less than 250 miles outside of the city, this is the website for you.

On a side note, my main man Michael Pollan has a new book out called “In Defense of Food.” I’m about half-way through and I love it and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it soon.

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Ooh baby, you look good.

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When I first moved to New York, I was a misguided Manhattanite with little knowledge of the great borough of Brooklyn. Manhattan was brand new to me, with thousands of bars and restaurants at my disposal. Why on earth would I want to leave and try out Brooklyn?

At the time, I was also reading a biography called Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, which, despite being mainly set in Portland and Los Angeles, described a small portion of Smith’s life in which he lived in Park Slope. Although he played the odd show at clubs in Manhattan, he apparently spent most of his time in bars in Brooklyn, and wrote his most critically acclaimed album, XO, while sitting in O’Connor’s.

Upon reading this, I decided to venture into this second borough, making O’Connor’s the first bar I ever visited in Brooklyn. It’s been around since 1931, and I find it hard to believe that a whole lot has changed since then. Aside from adding a few televisions, the price of any beer rests firmly at around $3 to $3.50 (well drinks are around the same price). The bar stools and booths all feel a little like they might collapse beneath you. Even the smell is one of an old, damp Brooklyn bar where you can imagine your grandfather sitting down and ordering a cheap bottle of beer.

I revisited the bar last night with BS enthusiast bearclaw, and was surprised to see that even on a Tuesday night at midnight, the bar was not empty. What is interesting about this bar is that unlike Jackie’s 5th Amendment or Old Carriage Inn (two other old bars in Park Slope), it seems to be a place where youngsters and their grandparents can co-exist peacefully. This is not to say that I have ever see a brawl break out at Jackie’s, but I’ve also never seen anyone there who didn’t have their AARP card on hand. What might bridge the age gap at O’Connor’s? A fantastic jukebox. While going through it, we saw everything from The New Pornographers to Ray Charles. They used to have XO, but have now changed to Smith’s posthumously released From a Basement on the Hill. We played a few songs from this album, in addition to some Loretta Lynn. While listening, it was easy to hear why Smith would choose a bar like O’Connor’s. It’s not a rowdy place, but somewhere you go for good conversation, or to blend in the background, listen to music and quietly drink.

Pros: Cheap, friendly staff, good people-watching, great jukebox.

Cons: No beer on tap, dark, not always available seating.

O’Connor’s
39 5th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Elliott Smith

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Your personal Brooklyn wine shop sherpa, ChezJJP, has been studying in depth this small store which lies smack between the infamous Prospect Wine Shop (9th St.) and much lauded Slope Cellars (15th St.) on the wino-heaven-boardwalk we call 7th Avenue in Park Slope.

My initial observation led me to mistakenly believe that there was no way Big Nose could cater to my “cheap but elegant” tastes in wine with a selection that seemed rather limited and an interior decoration that seemed inclined towards a higher class clientèle. I was completely wrong on this account; Big Nose offers a plethora of reds and whites around my usual target price range of “dix dollars americains“.

I don’t know about you, but when I try a new wine store, the first thing I do is to gauge how honest the owners’ intentions are by making a mad dash for the lowest price bottle in sight. Call me cheap, but I don’t make six figures a year yet, so a bottle under 10 that I can safely get to know over many nights is the object of my affection, and it makes me comfortable knowing that the shopkeeps condone this behavior. So with respect to my sly little test, Big Nose passed with flying colors and more. Where Slope Cellars up the street has more choices for bottles circa the $10 mark, this place has two or three selections under 10$ that really stand out on their own. I had a bright and luscious Spanish tempranillo red that was a steal for 7 bucks. Another $7 Australian Cudgee Creek syrah hit Plainclothesman’s well worn G-spot as well. Also at the $7 mark there was an absolutely tasty Portuguese red from the Dao region called Grao Vasco; fabulous with a light dinner of leftover jerk barbeque, Goya black beans (man, I’m addicted to those) and a CSA tomato with a toasted chunk of bread. As far as I’m concerned, if a store carries perfectly decent wine under $10, it makes me want to try their $25 and 40$ really badly. (I mean let’s face it, $7 wine usually is nothing to write home about.)

Another upside is that the staff are really friendly guys, and they have a chiller in the back so any room temperature white wine can be made ready to drink within minutes. The final verdict is that Big Nose Full Body is up there with the quality wine stores such as Slope Cellars, LeNell‘s and Red, White and Bubbly and I thoroughly recommend it.

 

Inside Big Nose Full Body

Big Nose Full Body
382 7th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 369-4030
www.bignosefullbody.com
Mon-Thurs 12-9pm
Friday 12-10pm
Saturday 11-10pm
Sunday 12-9pm

Pros:

  • Weekly Free Wine Tastings
  • Excellent Picks
  • Great Opening Hours
  • Super Friendly Staff
  • Animal Friendly
  • Close to Subway

Cons

  • Thinner Selection than you’d probably like

You can’t go wrong with: Olivares Jumilla, Spain, 2005. $10. This is a blend of 3 grapes and after being satisfied with the other cheaper wine, we were blown away at the complexity of this one for the price. Dispensing most of the jibber jabber you hear about hints of cherries, black forest berry love sessions and chocolate-river pipe dreams, I will just describe the Olivares as ” velvety smooth with a lone spice in the aftertaste that keeps you coming back for more”. It’s a perfectly elegant accompaniment to lamb or duck and suitable enough to drink by itself. Plus, your guests will think you’re a class act for pairing food with a Spanish wine.

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Brunch is a big New York weekend thing, as far as I can gather. It doesn’t seem to have hit the rest of the country as hard as it has here. You know, except for like Mother’s Day and Easter. I, personally, have been a devotee of the meal since I discovered “drunk brunch” while living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Now, I’m a little older, a little wiser, and a little less capable of drinking in the morning. Thus, my brunch establishment requirements have shifted from unlimited drinks included in the meal to good food, excellent coffee, and possibly an excellent mimosa.

Park Slope’s Perch Cafe offers just such a brunch. Its small but powerful bird-themed menu (Perch Toast, Bird in a Nest, etc.) delivers a lovely selection of breakfasty things, sandwiches, salads and side dishes. I have not been disappointed with anything I’ve tried. I even got an egg sandwich last time and I liked it even though I hate egg sandwiches. Because Perch is more consistently a coffee shop than anything else, the coffee is what pushes the restaurant past other brunch places in the area. It’s real good. Additionally, the mimosas are quite nice, with a top layer of pulp from fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Perch‘s design fits well with the slew of hip eateries on the 5th Avenue strip. The store is sleek, red-themed and clean. The coffee mugs are big and red and have little white birds on them. There is a beautiful patio in the back with tables topped with fire-colored umbrellas. The last time I was there, though, it was literally teeming with infants so I sat at the bar.

Generally, the service is okay. On several occasions, it was just really bad. I think they are terminally understaffed and get surprised by busy times like Labor Day, when no one was at work and everyone wanted breakfast. Nevertheless, given how pleasant the rest of the experience is, a bit of a leisurely breakfast never killed anyone.

Perch Cafe & Bar
365 5th Avenue between 5th & 6th Streets
Park Slope, Brooklyn

Pros:

  • Great coffee
  • Perch Toast is delicious
  • Egg sandwiches are good even if you don’t like eggs
  • Deeply adorable
  • Nice waitstaff

Cons:

  • Spotty service
  • Technically, there is no stove or kitchen
  • A little pricey, especially the mimosas ($8)

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We here at Brooklyn Skeptic see a lot of movies, whether they collect our eleven dollars or not. More specifically however, we see a lot of movies in Brooklyn. Brooklyn may not have the number of movie theaters that Manhattan is boasting, but I’ve been to a few gems. In the Bococa/Park Slope/Downtown/Brooklyn Heights region, there are several fun places where you can go to see everything from Bruckheimer to Buñuel. These are four that I frequent probably a little too often.

Park Slope Pavilion: While this theater wins in its proximity to most Brooklyn Skeptics, it loses in many other ways. It has the exterior aesthetic of a classic movie house with a bright shining marquis, but the featured films rarely do it justice. Basically these are the run of the mill flicks that can be seen pretty much anywhere. If you’re hankering to see the new “Eddie Murphy plays eighteen characters” movie or perhaps the new “Holy Shit Bruce Willis blows shit up real good” movie, then you will easily find it here. However, several other things come along with the price of admission. These things are hordes of crying children, seating that has been vomited upon, and small screens. I have wandered over here for several blockbusters on hungover Saturdays and Sundays (and Tuesdays) and have been met with a screen smaller than my grandmother’s television, babies screaming in my ear and what I can only assume was toxic waste on my seat (I now have gills – thanks Pavilion). So basically, if you’ve been looking for a place to see Norbit while squinting, cradling a random child and getting gum stuck on your shoe, there you go. Grade: D

United Artists on Court Street: This theater is similar to a typical Manhattan cineplex. I say this because it also plays commercial movies, has intimidating crowds outside all of the time and often requires an oxygen tank to reach some of the incredible levels one has to climb to view their desired movie. When approaching there is always a line going out the door for the ticket counter. If you have a credit card or have pre-ordered your tickets, you can bypass this and go to their automated ticket machines. These, like Union Square, often don’t work. Once you finally get your ticket and enter the theater, the guy ripping your ticket will usually say something like “Theater 18, take the escalator until your vertigo kicks in.” Once inside however, it should be said that these theaters are comfortable and relaxed. The screens are all of a decent size and the chairs recline. And as Pizappas has noted, the hysteria often provides wonderful movie-hopping opportunities. For your average blockbuster, skip the Pavilion and come here. Grade: C+

BAM Rose Cinemas: The first thing that one notices upon walking into the BAM theaters is the decor. Tall ceilings and beautiful architecture only compliment the wonderful collection of independent films both new and old that are shown here. They have four averaged sized screens that are perfectly suited for an elegant and comfortable movie experience (perfect for dates). In addition to their first run features, they are currently hosting events such as the New York Korean Film Festival, The New Decade: Hong Kong Film and a series of films that Paul Giamatti has chosen called Paul Giamatti Selects (which features an eclectic group of picks including The Big Clock and Invasion of the Body Snatchers). If one is looking for a classy and romantic evening of Brooklyn cinema, look no further. Grade: A

Cobble Hill Cinemas: This is a great theater. They play an interesting collection of films and have a very friendly staff. It is also a cheaper theater, as they offer matinee prices and a reduced regular rate (I believe it’s $9). The walls are painted with screen shots from Frankenstein and Casablanca, and the concession stand isn’t too bad either. The theater itself is apparently quite historic as well, and has been around since the sixties. That being said, they also have smaller screens, some gum on the ground and less leg room. But whether you’re feeling like seeing a popcorn movie or more arthouse fare, you can usually find what you want here. Grade: B+

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Someone I don’t know said once that sex is like wine, and in that line of thought, 7th Avenue in Park Slope is like the ‘Dam’s Red Light District. There are at least four wine shops within a twenty block radius, not even counting 5th Avenue. I suppose the rather comfortable living standard of the area makes for a lucrative steady supply of customers in the mid to high end market. Of course, you’ve still got my people; the $10 wine club -who occasionally spike to $15 if there happens to be a scotch tasting between walking in the store and the picking of the bottle.

Slope Cellars, my current go-to, is located on 7th between 14th and 15th streets. Clearly a labor of love, Slope Cellars is what it is: a welcoming, warm place with a metric sh*# ton of carefully palate-picked booze.

In the front, you will find a really great selection in all price ranges, in particular from the Burgundy/Rhone Valley region in France. But keep walking towards the back of the store and you will find the treasure trove which is the “Cheap & Tasty” section. In these boxes lie some very interesting finds for the wino. Prices span from $6.99 to $9.99 and believe me, it’s all game. Funnily, I learned from one of the owners that the Smith & Vine people are friends of theirs and adopted the 10$ and under section, which I think we can all agree is a top idea.

Of course, like any wine shop there are some duds here and there, like one particular bottle of Cahors red we tried, but you know what, nothing is fun without the occasional letdown. Wine is not an exact science, and neither is pleasure. Most of the whites in the cheap and tasty are stocked in the adjacent fridge but occasionally you may have to put in an ice bucket when you get home if drinking soon. American wines are also in the back, and again there are some very sweet looking picks.

Did I mention they have a club card that gets you a 13th bottle for 1$? I’m on my second card. So take a walk there, bring your English Bulldog and have a chat with the staff. They are super nice and will fix you right up.

Slope Cellars

Slope Cellars
436 7th Avenue (14th and 15th Streets)
(718)369-7307
www.slopecellars.com

Monday-Thursday: 11am – 10pm,
Friday, Saturday 11am – 11pm,
Sunday 12pm – 9pm

Pros:

  • Friendly, knowledgeable staff
  • Carefully handpicked selection, also lots of liquor
  • Cheap and Tasty section is large and changes frequently
  • Great opening hours
  • They have a “buy 12 get one for a buck” card!!
  • Frequent tastings
  • Great website

Cons:

  • No in-store wine chiller
  • You might find it a bit out of the way if you don’t live in South/Central Slope

You Can’t Go Wrong With: Jean Perrier et Fils. Apremont -Vin de Savoie , 2005, $12.99 (white, Savoie wine made from the Jacquère grape). You can tell I’ve been really into the light, crisp and tasty whites perfect for the summer heat, and this is one that will do that and the ol’ winter raclette night. I know it’s outside the acclaimed Cheap & Tasty section, but having spent some time in this region of France, I truly recommend it.

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I had heard about Bar 4 once or twice from a musician friend of mine who said the jazz scene was good there. Park Slope is a little jazz enclave and Bar 4 is one of its many hotbeds of creative production. Needless to say, I did not check it out until about a year later. I’m not actually cool enough for such scenes.

_mg_4744.jpgBut last Friday, a quick jaunt through South Slope/Windsor Terrace brought me and my friend to Bar 4’s door. Inside, it is small and dimly lit. It’s not dingy at all, but cozy and immaculate. Dustless bottles behind the bar were placed against the mirrored wall which emitted a flawless glow. Comfy couches filled the floor space and the walls were covered in local artists’ work. The centerpiece, of course, were the paintings of great musicians that plastered the wall behind the stage.

Upon a tip I received, I asked the bartender about the martinis. She slid a booklet my way. Inside was a selection of special martinis which are, apparently, the drinks of choice in this bar. I went for the Espresso Martini ($8). A little part of me died that night, knowing that if I followed my heart and drank nothing but Espresso Martinis all day long, I would probably get fired. So I left after my martini and I thought of its warm aroma and rousing taste for several days. Then I went back and got another on Sunday. Sweet Jesus and Mary.

My second visit was somewhat tainted by the deaf trombone duo that was gracing the stage that night, but I had the incredible luck of seeing a great Park Slope musician – Zach Williams – on my first visit. He was also joined briefly by Joely Pittman who sang backup on what is now my favorite song ever, Dirty Feet. Zach actually has a show coming up tomorrow, August 8th at 8:00pm at Bar Matchless, if you’re so inclined.

1003129803_l.jpgZach also mentioned that Bar 4’s Tuesday night open mic is one of the best in the city. This was independently confirmed by Plainclothesman, who was there at 2:00 AM and said the place was still totally packed. This is, at best, rare for the South Slope.

 

 

Bar 4
444 7th Avenue at 15th Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn

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